British Cycling has officially launched the search for a new Paralympic track star.
Last week, multiple world champion and Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Thornhill announced her retirement from the sport, aged 24, which left a hole in the squad.
The Great Britain Cycling Team are now on the hunt for a blind or visually impaired rider will compete at the Tokyo Paralympics next year.
Britain’s new track hopeful will be twinned with tandem pilot Helen Scott, who has scored Paralympic gold and multiple world titles.
Scott said: “Sophie and I enjoyed a successful partnership spanning over six years and winning eight world titles together as well as the Paralympic gold medal, and we made such a strong team. Sophie has made the decision to further her education which I completely respect and I wish her all the best.
“This is the start of a new chapter in my career, and I am still as driven as ever to reach that top step of the podium in Tokyo and beyond. I want to encourage any blind or visually impaired females who can match my drive and passion for sporting success to put in an application.”
Thornhill, from Poynton in Cheshire, announced on Wednesday (June 17) that she would be leaving the sport after 12 years to focus on her studies.
Partnered with pilots Helen Scott and Corrine Hall, Thornhill claimed 15 world titles and gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Scott added: “Tandem racing is a real team effort and we are so well-supported within the Great Britain Cycling Team. We receive the very best coaching, track and gym time, access to nutritionists, physios and psychs, just to give some examples of the support we receive. But what I enjoy most is that I get to train alongside a group of really good friends and teammates each day, some of whom are Olympic and Paralympic champions, which is hugely inspiring.
“I’m really passionate about tandem racing, and I remain highly driven to further my successes on the tandem, and to further support the development of para-cycling. For me, the journey is by no means over, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me and a new tandem partner.”
Thornhill’s departure from the British team comes a year out from the postponed Tokyo Paralympics, which leaves open a spot for a blind or visually impaired rider to join the squad.
Jon Pett, Head of Para-cycling for the Great Britain Cycling Team said: “We fully believe that, with 427 days to go until the Tokyo Paralympic Games, we have enough time to develop a new tandem stoker to deliver gold medal success, as well as contributing to our team ambition of topping the medal table in Tokyo, Paris and beyond. Working with our world-class team of support staff in our world-class facilities alongside the world’s best tandem pilot in Helen Scott, the candidate will be in the best place to start their elite racing career.
“It’s been a privilege supporting Helen and Sophie in dominating their sport over the years, and I’m keen that we can continue this success both for the reputation of our team but also to play a role in furthering the development of para-cycling.”
If you’re interested, email British Cycling’s para-cycling pathway manager John Lenton on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The squad said they are looking for a passionate and driven blind or visually impaired woman, but cycling experience isn’t necessarily required.Candidates must have a British passport and be aged 18 by December 31, 2021.